I am still reeling after the mass shooting targeting the Jewish community in Pittsburgh last month. But perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised; since 2014 we have seen an increase in hate crimes across the United States. As others have noted, increasing use of dog-whistle rhetoric by politicians and pundits has to bear part of the blame.
President Trump and others have stoked prejudice around crime allegedly perpetuated by immigrants, or in urban communities of color. Trump’s Twitter account and campaign speeches are filled with examples of language designed to appeal to racists. A number of local Republican campaigns in the midterms independently depicted Jewish opponents as clutching fistfuls of cash.
This is nothing new. Nixon and his administration, for example, used dog whistles in election campaigning and were motivated by racism in launching the War on Drugs. But this is a time when extra vigilance is needed.
[A sign in Orange County, California. Credit: Diane Goldstein]
During my 21-year law enforcement career, I was recognized as a subject-matter expert in the investigation of white-supremacy gang crimes, and I’ve applied this experience to my work in drug policy reform. Sadly, I’ve previously found cause to write about fringe elements in the cannabis legalization movement who use anti-Semitic symbolism and racist language.
However, journalists and reformers have too often ignored disturbing elements within the marijuana prohibitionist movement. In California, many of us felt that use of anti-Semitic tropes by people like Roger Morgan and Dr. Paul Chabot—both of whom started drug-free organizations, including Stop Pot and the now defunct Coalition for a Drug Free California—were best ignored as the rantings of irrelevant extremists.
Today, I believe that was wrong. Because the same anti-Semitic tropes that they used against George Soros (top image), the Hungarian-American philanthropist and supporter of drug policy reform, have now exploded and taken over the national conversation.
Increasing Anti-Semitic Attacks on George Soros
Both Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh murderer, and Cesar Sayoc, accused of sending over a dozen pipe bombs to perceived Trump opponents, shared “online conspiracy theories” about Jews and George Soros that are grounded in anti-Semitism.
These include statements very much like this one, found in Roger Morgan’s 2011 book, Soros the Drug Lord:
“The greatest enemy and threat to this nation is not Radical Islam and Al Qaeda, but the treasonous George Soros, who uses his billions to socially engineer and deconstruct America so that he can achieve his maligned goal of a New World Order.”
This demands to be challenged: The Jew as master puppeteer is classic WWII-era Nazi propaganda. The image below, created in 1941 and depicting the supposed manipulation of Churchill and Stalin, is from the US Holocaust Museum:
Roger Morgan—in his articles, his book and through his anti-drug 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization “Take Back America”—has perpetuated the debunked myth spread by Lyndon Larouche, Glenn Beck, Alex Jones and most recently by Roseanne Barr that Soros collaborated with Nazis in wartime Hungary to steal and send Jewish families to the gas chambers.
Morgan claims in his book that Soros, as a 14-year-old boy, amassed wealth by stealing “100 kilo bags of gold” while collaborating in helping to send 500,000 Hungarian Jews to death, and “helped ransack their possessions.” The claim is as ludicrous as it is disgusting.
But today, given the rise of white nationalism and the elevation of Soros to the status of a boogeyman by politicians, we cannot stay silent even about claims that are patently false. Per a recent Financial Times article:
“Soros has become the House of Rothschild of the 21st century,” said Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of Holocaust history at Emory University and the author of a forthcoming book on modern-day anti-Semitism. “No one [explicitly] says Soros is a Jew, but there are groups on the right for whom these [symbols] are a wink-wink, nod-nod dog whistle.”
While researching prohibitionist nonprofits, I discovered some disturbing links.
Parents Opposed to Pot
Parents Opposed to Pot was incorporated in Virginia in 2011. Its slogan is “Bursting the bubble of marijuana hype.” It filed for federal 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in 2014 and achieved it in 2015. Its “Principal Officer” in 2015—according to GuideStar, a large information service aiming to promote transparency in nonprofits—was Roger Morgan.
Parents Opposed to Pot has social media presences and a list of highly qualified “professional advisors” in medicine and academia.
And who else was on the board? A document I obtained directly from the Internal Revenue Service shows that in 2015 the organization’s “List of Officers, Directors, Trustees, and Key Employees” comprised just two people: Director Roger Morgan and President Julie Schauer.
Julie Schauer is a DC-based millionaire who has donated heavily through her family trust to arch-prohibitionist Kevin Sabet and his Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM Action) political action committee. Schauer gave $1.3 million to Sabet’s group for their anti-legalization campaigns throughout the United States in 2016.
Let me be clear: I am not accusing Sabet, SAM or Schauer of being racist or anti-Semitic. Morgan, based on his writings, clearly espouses anti-Semitism, which is a form of racism.
But what does perplex me is that Schauer—who signed the 2014 IRS 990 tax filing for Parents Opposed to Pot in 2018, and who this year was promoted by Sabet as a speaker at his 2018 RX Summit—knows about her former director and principal officer Roger Morgan’s anti-Semitic views, but has ignored them.
It seems the strategy is to quietly hope these views are forgotten. The website of Parents Opposed to Pot makes no mention of Morgan (or Schauer) but still displays versions of Morgan’s articles. You can see articles that are strongly similar—but this time containing anti-Semitic tropes—on Morgan’s Take Back America site.
I challenged Parents Opposed to Pot on Twitter about their connection, though Morgan, to Take Back America. They responded:
Both Parents Opposed to Pot and Take Back America had their non-profit status suspended by the IRS earlier this year, after failing to file the requisite Form 990 for three consecutive years, and you might argue that they’re irrelevant. But they’re still active on social media, and still connected with major players in the anti-legalization movement.
Schauer and Morgan’s nonprofit work has called for law enforcement intervention in states that have legalized. SAM Action, to whom Schauer has donated in the past, supplied most of the funding to unsuccessfully oppose legalization in Michigan.
Parents Opposed to Pot’s deliberate indifference to anti-Semitic references can be seen on their Twitter feed. I am not the first to point out how they have ignored such messages in the articles or videos they share:
Their account continues to deny Morgan’s belief in anti-Semitic conspiracies, and ignores how damaging they are when spread via social media.
Simply stating that they don’t believe in conspiracy theories doesn’t mean that racist organizations can’t use these lies to gain influence or cause violence. And as I’ve said, I don’t accept that anti-Semitism and racism should be brushed under the carpet—not in my own movement, and not in our opponents’ movement.
Anti-Legalization Funder Julie Schauer Responds
Before publishing this article, Filter emailed Dr. Kenneth Finn, one of the professional advisors named on the Parents Opposed to Pot website, requesting comment on Roger Morgan’s connection with the organization and his anti-Semitism.
Filter’s email referred to my previous understanding, based on documents I obtained, that Morgan was a co-founder of Parents Opposed to Pot, which was not the case.
Filter received two replies directly from Julie Schauer. The first made no reference to anti-Semitism, but cited a study funded by the Australian government that showed a correlation between adolescent marijuana use and suicide attempts, and made other claims about marijuana’s dangers, including saying that it is “connected so often to teens who go missing.”
Schauer’s second email, which was prefaced by threats of legal action in the event of her being misquoted, deserves to be published in full:
“I am the only founder of Parents Opposed to Pot. Roger Morgan is not a co-founder of Parents Opposed to Pot. Diane Goldstein, the person promoting that information is dead wrong. In fact, Roger gave an interview to No Weed Illinois today and he didn’t mention Parents Opposed to Pot.
Roger Morgan was on the Board of Parents Opposed to Pot for one or two years because he volunteered to be working from the West Coast. We needed someone from the west coast. I did not ask him to continue on the Board, but we have two different representatives from California on our Board.
Roger and I differed on a number of issues, but we do agree that George Soros’s funding of Drug Policy Alliance has greatly harmed young people. Promoting this ideology has much to do with why 21-35 year olds are dying at a rate that is 5x what it was in 1999. We agree that most young people who die began their illicit drug use with marijuana.
I personally find that Soros’s indifference to these deaths disgraceful. If Mr. Soros got out of his perch in the ivory tower, he could re-evaluate his decisions and stop funding drug legalization efforts.
Roger and I agreed however, that parents must tell their children that no amount of marijuana use today is safe. We also know people whose children have become psychotic—suddenly. Some of their children died from marijuana ONLY, with marijuana the only drug in their toxicology reports.
I am also upset with George Soros because I formerly gave money to MoveOn.org. My opposition to the Iraq War which is as strong as my opposition to marijuana legalization. MoveOn.org continued to ask me for donations but it had changed its mission. When I looked into it, I found out that a donation from Soros had much to do with changing the mission. Yes, I am upset that the political action group, as well as charities I donated to, took donations from him and then, instead of sticking to their purpose or goal, incorporated his ideology.
I don’t blame George Soros for anything he did as a teen, and realize that Roger does. I don’t think that Roger’s objection to Soros is anti-Semitic.
I HAVE NOT READ Roger Morgan’s BOOK and have no interest in reading it.”
We’ll set aside, for now, Schauer’s unfounded claims about drug policy reform and marijuana—which has never caused a verified overdose death and is not a “gateway drug.”
But note how she refers to how she and Morgan “differed,” while minimizing his contribution to her organization. At the same time, she lightly hints at possible wartime wrongdoing by Soros, accuses him of being aloof and exerting undue influence, and denies Morgan’s anti-Semitism.
Documents obtained by Filter, including a 2017 annual report filed in the Commonwealth of Virginia and signed by Schauer, show that Morgan was an officer and director until 2016. A federal tax filing for the period December 2014-November 2015 also named Morgan.
Even if Julie Schauer fails to understand how her anti-legalization ideology perpetuates racial injustice, surely she should publicly and unequivocally reject the racist tropes spread by her former director?
And if she doesn’t understand why they are considered anti-Semitic, she could simply refer to the Anti-Defamation League. It addresses issues like anti-Semitism on Twitter, the use of terms like “globalist” as anti-Semitic tropes, and the specific anti-Semitic conspiracy theories against Soros.
Instead, Schauer likes to portray herself as a victim of reformers like me, who have attempted, for example, to hold Kevin Sabet and his organization accountable for campaign behaviors that, at a bare minimum, crossed ethical lines. (I do, however, condemn any verbal abuse Schauer may have received.)
Schauer wrote to the California Fair Political Practices Commission in 2017:
“By using me as a scapegoat, your state has harmed my reputation. Some marijuana activists publicly humiliated me over the Internet by digging up ‘dirt’ and posting it on the Internet. My reputation as a teacher of 30 years is now tarnished and damaged so that I can never go back to teaching again. For nearly two months, I received phone calls and emails from people who did not know me, but wished to intimidate me. (I don’t know how they got the information.) It was harassment as some of the language they used in their insults confirmed by belief that marijuana causes vile behaviors. I’m not a ‘pay-to-play’ type of person, I resent that your state has tried to make me out to be. Thank you, California, and thank you, marijuana activists and marijuana groups, for ruining my career and harming my reputation.”
Not Good Enough
Ms. Schauer, although I do not accuse you of being racist or anti-Semitic, I do take exception to the way you and your organization have contributed to the spread of racism, without your publicly condemning these ideas. And I’m appalled that, in these circumstances, SAM and Kevin Sabet have brought you to the national spotlight.
Perhaps Sabet, who is currently attempting to reframe marijuana legalization as the New Jim Crow, doesn’t know that your former director has published anti-Semitic bile, while you and your non-profit have willfully ignored and sanitized it?
It’s stunning to me that your organization portrays drug policy reformers as disingenuous, while you, your website and your social media pages are not candid about Morgan’s views.
If you were embarrassed when your contributions were used in a manner inconsistent with California campaign law, you should be incredibly ashamed to continue to operate your organization without acknowledging its previous links with anti-Semitism. You and your organization’s continued failure to fully disavow Morgan make you complicit in perpetuating anti-Semitism in America.
This article was updated to reflect new evidence discovered by Filter about Roger Morgan’s tenure as an officer and director of Parents Opposed to Pot, and the fact that it was incorporated in Virginia in 2011.